Mo, me and America: The Vanishing Rural Community

Mo, me and America: The Vanishing Rural Community


A man, his dog,

and their 15,000-mile search

for rural America.

Randy Turk, along with his dog, Mo, spends sixteen months traveling the country in search of the rural America of his past: a time when Main Street was crowded, family and neighbors lived just down the road, and communities pulled together in times of need.

In conversational interviews with 105 residents, Turk poses three guiding questions: Tell me about your town or community; tell me what it is like to live here; and tell me how it has changed. The participants include farmers, students, pilots, waitresses, artists, editors, volunteer firemen, politicians, museum curators, mayors, business owners, and retirees of every age, creed, and color. What binds them together is not only a belief in second chances but also the fact that they have all experienced life in a type of community that is rapidly vanishing.

It is not gone yet, however. Small Town, USA is alive and well: different, perhaps, but surprisingly vital, just like its people.

Randy Turk has found what he was looking for, and these are their stories

Our Review

Mo, Me and America: The Vanishing Rural Community – Randy Turk,PHD

This is primarily a book about ‘people, community and change’ in rural America. The author Randy and his ‘dawg’ Mo spent 16 months and traveled 32 states asking people about their experiences of life in rural areas.

Randy’s interest in this topic sprang out of stories told by his extended family from their own lives and also his own experiences of life on a rural farm.

I liked the way Randy’s experiences in the places he visited were peppered with the interviewee’s experiences as well as stories from his dawg, Mo. I found it interesting that the age of the participants was so varied as was their experience but despite this there were common threads throughout all the tales.

As someone who is not a dog owner I expected the bits written from the perspective of Mo to be of little interest to me. However, I liked that he had his own distinctive almost human-like voice that told his tale in a distinctive and entertaining way.

The participant interviews spoke of general themes of community spirit, support for each other in times of need and affection for their neighbours. However, they also spoke about the impact of a decline in farming, the effect of young people moving in large groups from rural to urban areas for better employment opportunities and the closure of areas of social gathering.

I enjoyed the way the first interview was a self-interview to introduce us to him and his experiences as well as his motivation for writing this book.

The stories in this book seem almost idyllic: with comments about adults in the community looking out for all children in their town not just their own, a sense that everyone knows each other’s business and are willing to help at any time.

Gilbert was my favourite interviewee mostly because of his optimistic comment that “life is what you make of it. Everywhere you go you get good people.”

Having recently been to America for the first time I was fascinated by Randy’s description of the places he visited and now have a pretty large list of places I want to visit.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4/5

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